Doing the right thing is typically not the easiest solution. It can cost you more time, less profit, or make you at odds with the majority.
This past week, CVS Pharmacies addressed a business contradiction that few of us had ever noticed. They announced they would stop the sell of tobacco products by the end of September. CVS executives explained that the decision came as part of a strategic shift in their mission. They are in the process of becoming less of a drugstore and more of a full-orbed care provider.
“Cigarettes have no place in an environment where health care is being delivered,” said Larry Merlo, a former pharmacist who became CEO of CVS Caremark in 2011. “This is the right decision at the right time.”
This decision will cost them. The pharmacy chain will lose more than 2 billion dollars in tobacco-related sales. But doing the right thing generally cost something.
Sure. Doing the right thing can be a risky business, but it is something every business should place at the top of their checklist when developing a marketing push, launching a new product or charting a new course.
Do the right thing is one of our advertising agency’s six internal brand promises. It informs every decision we make and everything we do. We trust and expect our staff to always do the right thing – even if it cost us. After all, building a business is rarely a black and white affair. There are gray areas. This is precisely why business leaders need a metric of this sort to challenge them. Just because your lawyer says something is legal, doesn’t make it right. Just because your accountant says it is something that will make money, it shouldn’t be considered a mandate.
This week CVS Caremark chose to do the right thing. My hat is off to them.